Last night we watched Get Low with Robert Duvall. One of the many great lines spoken by Duvall’s character, Felix Bush, occurs when another character, Buddy, finds Felix slumped over in his barn, unable to get up.Buddy: You stuck?
Felix: You have no idea how right you are, boy.
Buddy: You sick?
Felix: Going through the motions.
Buddy: What does that mean?
Felix: There’s going through the motions. There’s alive and there’s dead and there’s a worse place in between. And I hope that you never know about that, pal.
And that place is where I work: the Intensive Care Unit.
Last week I cared for a patient who was, let’s say, typical. Not 20 years older than me, he was obese, diabetic, had suffered several heart attacks, had a portion of a leg removed because of non-healing infections, had a multidrug resistant bloodstream infection, and was in my care because he had gone into respiratory distress and probably suffered a stroke. His condition had left him unable to attend to his own hygiene and unable to feed himself. In the uncharitable language of nurses-trying-to-cope he was “a train wreck.”
As I was feeding him his dinner, I lowered the fork into his pureed vegetable (green beans?). He shook his head, “I don’t eat vegetables.” Of course. I put the fork down.
I went home and ate an entire Napa cabbage (ANDI score 704).